Review: A Wind of Knives by Ed Kurtz

A few months ago, I had the great thrill to be offered to blurb a novella from Snubnose Press and I responded enthusiastically to the request. But in true fashion I put off reading the book and things entered and exited my limited consciousness. Shiny baubles. And before I knew it, 2 months had passed and I hadn’t read or blurbed or anything. I’m a horrible person.

So I touched base with Snubnose Press to see if they still needed the blurb. Sure did. I read the story over the weekend and intended to put together my blurb early the next week. That’s when Murphy and Darwin conspired against me and through some stupidly heroic deeds, which I’ve sworn under oath to the Government not to disclose, I broke my right hand, and for those playing along it’s also my write hand. It has some other nicknames, but we don’t need to go into that.

Last Friday, A WIND OF KNIVES by Ed Kurtz was unleashed upon the word sans a blurb from me. A lifetime dedication to procrastination has served me well and bemused many a fellow dependent on my magnanimous promises.

Ed and Brian (and crew) at Snubnose Press, my sincere apologies.

I think I’ve castigated myself sufficiently, let us get on with my opinions.

Over the last couple of years I’ve had the pleasure to read stories by Ed Kurtz, from his novel Bleed to his his Sci-Fi / Horror series about the down on his luck detective Sam Truman to stories I’ve had the pleasure to publish myself through Shotgun Honey. One thing I’ve learned to expect from Kurtz is that I shouldn’t have any expectations at all. Each story is an amorphous experience where the rules are unbound. So when I was told he had written a Western, something I had never seen from the Texas native, it was not unexpected.  Still, like with most of his work, it was full of its surprises.

windofknives_A Wind of Knives starts off and hits three major tropes of the Western: Love, Revenge, and Duty.

We find our protagonist, Daniel Hays, staring up along the hills into a falling dusk, a scene that should be a captivating canvas of Texas landscape only to be drawn towards Daniel’s true focus. A hanging man, his ranch hand and his lover Steven. This sets in motion a story, with gender and sexuality set aside, that makes for a riveting tale of revenge, and with elevates the story above a standard Western.

Kurtz tells a story of a man who has loved and lost, not once, but twice in his lifetime. The first his wife Elizabeth who died from sickness and then again with Steven who died, as the story would unwind, from hate. It is from his understanding of Love, removed from the boundaries of gender, that Daniel searches out his lover’s killers despite being no where near suited for the job. His sense of duty would bring him to peril and near death, into the arms of unsuspecting tenderness and ultimately unmask the face of hate.

Knives is more than a Western, and from a writer who comfortably writes terrifying mechanization of  Horror, Kurtz isn’t too far away from his wheelhouse with a story ignited by hate and extinguished with love.

Kudos to Ed Kurtz and Snubnose Press for publishing A Wind of Knives.

Review: The Drifter Detective by Garnett Elliott

1One of the impetuses of creating The Big Adios were the western tales of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles by pulp fictioneer and provocateur David Cranmer. Which have spawn from the short stories he wrote as Edward A. Grainger, who by the way launched TBA with the story “Missing,” to a series of novellas and novelettes. So when I saw a new Laramie story yesterday, I was all in. Only…

Only, this wasn’t Cash Laramie. No this was Jack Laramie the grandson of the famous Outlaw Marshal. Armed with a colt, his granddad’s lucky arrow head and a beat up DeSoto, Jack travels the back roads of Texas looking for snoop work, hoping to save up enough scratch to open his own detective agency and put down roots.

While I got roped into this story with the Laramie name, Jack Laramie stands on his own as a veteran with a hell of an uppercut who’s not afraid to buck system or change the rules as given him. Clocking in at 9,000 words (give or take), The Drifter Detective is a lean, deftly crafted story by a writer I’ve had the good fortune to publish myself, Garnett Elliott. While I’m sold on the series, I’d definitely be fully invested in future Jack Laramie stories by Mr. Elliott.

Go get yourself a copy of The Drifter Detective. Less than a buck, you can’t go wrong with one-two punch of Jack Laramie and Garnett Elliott.

Book’d: Witness to Death by Dave White

Do you dream?

That’s rhetorical, we all do. Not many remember their dreams or their nocturnal journeys to the center of their Id. I do and it’s been a wonderful source for my writing. And not uncommon my dreams are sculpted, made malleable by the events of the day. Influenced. Hijacked.

This is generally because the mind is unwilling to let go.

I read before I sleep. So if ever you read something of mine that is familiar, I apologize. It was subconscious.

The other night I dreamed of New Jersey. Of fleeing for my life on unfamiliar trains, slow boating ferries and in unfamiliar territory. I was on the run. Wanted for murder. I didn’t do it. I was the fall guy. How would I survive, clear myself? How?

I’ve never been to Jersey. Or on a subway train. And I was only wanted for murder that one time — you know how that is. Before going to bed, I had started reading Dave White’s WITNESS TO DEATH.

Not to give Dave a swelled head. Have you seen his mugshot? He doesn’t need it. But I don’t always have this reaction to reading a book. But there I was in my dream state living the life of John Brighton, White’s protagonist, and on the run. And generally, this means what I’ve read had an impact and I was only a few bytes into the book.

Yes, I said bytes. WITNESS TO DEATH is an ebook, available on the Kindle and the Nook for a mere 99 cents. And that folks is a steal. It would be a steal at $2.99, and probably $4.99. You could say it’s worth every byte.

Since that first dream invading night, I’ve nickle and dimed my way through WITNESS TO DEATH. Oh, I would have loved to read it all in a sitting, but time is tight right now, and by the time I got to the end, I was glad to take it slow.

This is Dave White’s 3rd novel, first stand alone. His first two books WHEN ONE MAN DIES and THE EVIL THAT MEN DO featuring Jackson Donne are likewise available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I’m remiss to admit I haven’t read them yet, but after finishing WITNESS TO DEATH, I think it’s about time.